A strong and well-defined personal brand is key to professional success. In our increasingly digital world this is becoming an accepted fact, but a number of misconceptions about the purpose and method of developing a personal brand still exist.
I'm setting the record straight on three such personal branding myths.
1. Personal Branding Is Fake
There’s a misconception that spending time and energy crafting your personal brand is essentially the same as constructing an image – a smokescreen. This myth fails to take into account the “personal” in personal branding.
Here’s the reality: without authenticity, a personal brand can’t be successful. In fact, one of the first steps to building a personal brand is thoroughly examining who you are, what you offer and how your skills and experience differentiate you from others. This process involves writing mission and vision statements, and a brand mantra, all of which help ensure your personal brand is a true reflection of you.
2. Personal Branding is Just Bragging by Another Name
Defining and clearly expressing what makes you stand out is not an ego-stroking exercise. Taking the time to explore your value, uniqueness and differentiating qualities is key to setting yourself up for career success. If you approach the process with honesty, and welcome input from colleagues, clients and employers, you’ll be able to settle on an authentic personal brand.
Another way to look at it is this: your personal brand isn’t just about you. If you don’t take into account what you have to offer others, your personal brand is incomplete. Your potential clients or employers need to know exactly how you’ll meet their needs.
3. Personal Branding Isn't for Everyone
This simply isn’t true. No matter what industry you work in, a strong personal brand will ensure long-term career success. If you’re an independent consultant, your personal brand will help you grow your business and expand your client base. If you currently work for an organization that offers advancement opportunities, your personal brand will help you achieve career growth. And if you’re currently looking for employment, a strong personal brand will help you find your dream job.
Another key point in debunking this myth is the fact that social media is making it impossible to avoid having a personal brand. The growing popularity of LinkedIn alone speaks to the importance of taking the time to clearly define how you represent yourself to the world.
Online tools make it easier than ever to build your personal brand, but their ubiquity also means any mistakes can haunt you. Have a plan and know your brand because your online activities can impact how you’re perceived, whether you mean for them to or not.